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'Unacceptable' smells from sewage works spark angry complaints

Residents are unhappy about the smell from rag items filtered out of the sewage and placed in skips near the Holder Road gate to Aldershot Sewage Treatment Works

A picture from within the last week shows wet rags disposed of into (or nearly into) a skip at Aldershot Sewage Treatment Works on the River Blackwater.

"Horrific" odours from the Aldershot Sewage Treatment Works have sparked complaints from residents and businesses.

Thames Water is facing increasing pressure to resolve the problem as Rushmoor Borough Council has also voiced its concerns.

Homeowners and businesses have complained about the stench from ‘rag’ items such as sanitary towels, non-degradable wipes and cotton buds which are filtered out of the sewage and placed in skips near the Holder Road gate to the facility.

Employees at the site in Blackwater Valley Industrial Park have reportedly had to leave work feeling unwell due to the smell during the current warm weather, but Thames Water has stressed it is remedying the issue.

It is claimed that the powerful smell is the result of the treatment works operating less efficiently – a problem that stems back to the winter flooding, when the facility’s pumps were unable to cope with the increased water.

Hired pumps are currently being used while Thames Water awaits the delivery of new ones.

A meeting between Rushmoor Borough Council’s environmental health manager and Thames Water’s site manager took place last week, at which the complaints were discussed.

However, with the problem continuing, the council has made an official complaint to Thames Water’s chief executive Martin Baggs in an attempt to prompt immediate action.

A letter from the environmental health department to North Town councillors said: “We have concerns about the commitment of Thames Water to carry out the necessary works to bring the treatment works back to full operational capacity within an acceptable timescale and to adequately control the odour to minimise the impact on local residents and businesses.”

It added that there was not sufficient evidence to take formal action, but visits were being made to complainants to find out more.

Henry Green, managing director of timber and building merchants David Cover & Son on the neighbouring industrial park, said the smell had been "horrific" during the recent hot weather.

“The smell has been at a totally unacceptable level,” he said.

“We accept that we’re situated close to a sewage works, and on the whole Thames Water does a good job to keep the odours to a minimum.

“But over the last two weeks it has been an unpleasant environment for our employees and customers.”

Requests have been made by the environmental health team for Thames Water to produce a programme of works being undertaken at the facility, plans to control the odour both in the short and long term and to remove the rag skips immediately.

Another visit will take place to review whether this is being put into practice.

A Thames Water spokesman said it was working to install new pumps, which were ordered once the flooding issues were resolved, and new filters, which can only be installed after the pumps.

They said the rags are dirtier and smellier than normal due to the filter screen problems, however temporary equipment to alleviate this is due to be put in place this week.

 
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